Recently, we have seen quite a few things coming out of Microsoft indicating the direction the tech giant will be heading, and in my view, some of the news has been inevitable.
Here are a few of the changes we can see coming at the edge of the technology world, especially from a Microsoft perspective.
Microsoft has released its own phone brand with the Lumia 535 at a budget $155, which will do lots of the things that once cost $900 for a smartphone. They have also announced Skype for business, bringing a business grade solution to businesses globally. This will see two strategic acquisitions, Skype and Nokia, come together to get us as businesses and consumers using Microsoft technology to talk to each other across the globe.
Today Microsoft does not own the networks we use, they have left that to the telcos so far, but I can see a time when they start buying up telcos around the globe to form a global network. This goes back to Bill Gates’ idea of the MSN which he wanted to build to compete with the internet. Will Microsoft start to provide the handset, the application layer or PBX equivalent with Skype and then move in to own the physical lines the data runs over?
In any case, the unified communications tool that is Microsoft Lync today will become Skype for Business early next year and the quality of voice and security will improve to offer a business grade experience for businesses ready to make the move to video calling, presence, desktop sharing and instant messaging all in one simple to use tool.
This is good news for the Microsoft Certified Partners who have gone down the Communications Competency path and are ready to assist businesses to adopt Microsoft unified communications products. It is also good news for businesses with multiple offices looking to communicate better and reduce travel costs for internal meetings. Of course it is also good news for organisations that have realised they can sell over unified communications.
Today, busy people do not always want to meet face to face to find out about a new product. They may get stuck with a salesperson they don’t want to be chatting with or may spend too much time on pleasantries for a product they turn out not to need. Busy executives today are quite likely to accept a video and desktop sharing session to introduce a product or service. In this way they can quickly assess the function and decide to have an in-person meeting if required. This may sound cold to old school salespeople but it can also mean the salesperson is qualifying out the non-starters faster and then only meets with the hot prospects, thus driving the efficiency of sales activity.
I digress from the question: will Microsoft be the biggest communications company in the world? If we believe numbers found on various websites there were 1.4 trillion minutes used on Skype calls in 2013. There have been up to 80 million concurrent connections over Skype in one instant, according to Wikipedia in 2014, and 40% of international calls are now over Skype.
As the business side of Microsoft’s communications platform is better integrated with Skype, we can expect better call quality and better reach from our business systems, which may extend this reach for international calls and see us using Skype for Business to make our local calls as well.
Many of the traditional phone companies such as Avaya and Mitel now have tight integration with the Microsoft communications platform so that phones and PCs can be connected up to one capable unified communications platform. I have little doubt this technology will capture market share very quickly, making Microsoft the key player in the communications world.
With a budget that lets them acquire the technologies they need to remain the market leader it will be a very interesting few years in the business communications space. I can see it being as revolutionary to the way we communicate as the introduction of the smartphone, which was first created by IBM in 1992, took 10 years to get to launch with the Blackberry and Palm Treo in 2002, and really took off in 2007 with the launch of iPhones and the app store.
If you are not yet considering Microsoft communications, it could be time to find out if it is a suitable fit for your business.
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that is known for solving business problems with IT. How can we help?